TSA Halts Private Airport Security Program

Who didn’t see this coming?

The Screening Partnership Program has allowed airports to use private security contractors in the place of Transportation Security Agency officials to screen passengers.  Sixteen airports participate in this “opt out” program which gained a lot of attention after the TSA implemented its nude scanner / groping policy last December.

Apparently the TSA did not like this program nor the attention it was getting.  Despite claiming that it was neutral on the issue it is now closing the door option for more airports to opt out.  From CNN:

A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was “neutral” on the program…

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have “opted out” of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City…

Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida, wrote a letter encouraging airports to privatize their airport screeners, saying they would be more responsive to the public.

At that time, the TSA said it neither endorsed nor opposed private screening.

“If airports chose this route, we are going to work with them to do it,” a TSA spokesman said in late December.

But on Friday, the TSA denied an application by Springfield-Branson Airport in Missouri to privatize its checkpoint workforce, and in a statement, Pistole indicated other applications likewise will be denied.

“I examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time,” Pistole said.

I wonder if this has anything to do with protecting TSA jobs once they unionize?

In a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided Friday that Transportation Security Administration staffers will be allowed to vote on union representation.

The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government’s two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent some 50,000 transportation security officers…

TSA employees have already joined both unions, but the workers do not have collective bargaining rights. The election, which Gage said may be held early next year, will allow the employees to decide which of the two labor organizations will be the employees’ exclusive representative.